‘THE DRUNKEN REFEREE’:Doctor Warn Nigeria Match Officials to Desist from Alcohol and Marijuana

 Several reports had reached the National Sports Commission (NSC) of some referees that officiates various Nigeria football leagues, drink excess alcohol and smoke marijuana before a game. Many others also take ‘energy drinks’ as a kind of stimulants to help them run around through the duration of the match.  But a medical doctor with NSC, Paul Onyeudo, has identified such habits as one of the reasons referees’ loss concentration in the match they officiate and make some terrible decisions during the game.

“We know all about Match Fixing, Fans harassment and the likes in Nigerian leagues, but the use of substances like Alcohol, Marijuana, Caffeine, and Tobacco… had affected the Nigerian Referee adversely and given them an unpleasant reputation among the community of Referees around the world. The sub-standard performances of some of our ‘men in black’ has relegated the Nigerian Referees to the back bench when it comes to the officiating of big events like FIFA World cup, Olympics, Commonwealth games… This isn’t to indict anyone, but to make a positive change in the officiating of our football. “

Onyeudo, while delivering a lecture titled, “Fitness for Referees” at the FIFA Member Association (MA) course, put all the delegates to laughter when he talked about ‘the Drunken Referee.’ According to him, it’ll be abnormal for a Referee to be changed because he couldn’t see clearly any longer – he has gone into stupor because of alcohol! “Imagine a match halted for the referee to go and urinate.” He therefore noted that Referees must be healthy and to avoid being substituted in a game.

First, Onyeudo said Referees should shun the use of drugs or any form of stimulants like alcohol, Marijuana, caffeine, tobacco to enable them be in control of the game they officiate. He said for example, alcohol causes too much urination, which could lead to dehydration for the Referee; “Dehydration can lead to fatigue and Referees must ensure the adverse effects do not mar the game.” Onyeudo explained.

Second, the doctor pointed out that Referees must submit themselves to pre-season medical assessment with emphasis on the Lungs and Muscles. “All existing medical condition must be identified and controlled. These include hypertension, Diabetes Mellitus, Exercise-induced Asthma, Febrile illness, Arrhythmias and other cardiac abnormalities.

Third, Onyeudo advised Referees to all adopt healthy habits and regimens. “Healthy practices, which involve good nutrition, must be followed with regular exercise and fitness regimen.” He noted that football had changed from what it used to be in the past, adding that Referees are seen as ‘professional Athletes’ and must have good health programs to remain fit.

The FIFA (AM) course is for Elite Referees, Technical Instructors, Referee Assessors and Physical Fitness Instructors. The lecture marked the end of a five day course supervised by former FIFA Referee, Lim Chong, from Mauritius.

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